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May 25, 2006

The guy who (reportedly) shot my next-door neighbor
Posted by Teresa at 04:34 PM *

My neighbor, Irving Matos, was killed in November of last year. His body was discovered a week later. The tip-off was the smell. I wrote about it twice—C4H12N2, when they found the body, and The story’s in the NYPost, when it came out that he’d been murdered.

It was a peculiar murder. He was shot while sitting in front of his TV. The door was unlocked. He was killed with a single .22 bullet, fired straight down through the top of his head.

The story’s been on hold since then, but that’s about to end. How can I tell? Because today I’ve had reporters from the Daily News and the New York Times ringing my doorbell, wanting to talk to me. Last time around it was police detectives. Once again, I learned more from the people questioning me than they learned from me. That’s not their fault, though; I just don’t know all that much.
[Addendum, 11:20 p.m.: Collect the set! I have now been phoned by a reporter from the New York Post, too. As soon as he identified himself, I said “Everything I know about Irving Matos went into my weblog. I put up a post today that links to both of the pieces I wrote about the case at the time. Make sure you read the comment threads.” Makes it all much easier.]
Some of you may have seen a recent news story about a bar bouncer named Stephen Sakai who worked in a Chelsea club called Opus. On Tuesday night Sakai got into a slanging match with four young men. He drew a .45 and, over the course of the next few minutes, shot all four of them, leaving one dead, one in grave condition (quadriplegic, shot through the neck), and the other two with holes in them. At that point, as the Daily News put it, “A small army of cops, heavily armed and in riot gear, descended on the club.” Sakai fled the scene but was picked up next morning in Brooklyn.

Judging from the stories that have come out so far, it appears that while in police custody, Sakai has boasted of other murders—including that of Irving Matos. If you’re interested in reading about it:

ABC Eyewitness News, very professional, written entirely in newspaperspeak. The quintessentially tabloid New York Post, with many vivid and heartwrenching details about the shootings on Tuesday night. The Gothamist, very local, with a discussion of the exact status of Sakai’s gun license. CBS News, which appears to have read everyone else’s write-ups. The New York Times, which has an excellent write-up of the Chelsea shootings but hasn’t heard about the late-breaking story. And the winner and still champeen, the New York Daily News, with its headline, RAGE FOR CLUB SLAY BOUNCER.

“Rage” seems about right. If I were a member of the Cuadros or Matos families, I’d feel the same way.

Comments on The guy who (reportedly) shot my next-door neighbor:
#1 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 06:01 PM:

The Daily News link leads to the NY Times.

/still reading.

#2 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 06:36 PM:

Oh dear. I'm glad they may have got the guy who did it, but I hope the next few days isn't going to be too hard on you. :-(

#3 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 06:53 PM:

What Julia said.

This guy sounds like a real prize. He definitely needs to be out of circulation.

#4 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 08:04 PM:

The ABC story had at least two glaring grammatical errors: an instance of "who's" for "whose", and one grocer's apostrophe.

That said, this guy sounds like what folks in Texas might call Man Needs Killin'. If he truly did kill your neighbor, and the other people he claims to have offed, as well as this incident, he's not curable IMO.

#6 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 08:31 PM:

Thanks, Julia, but it shouldn't be too bad. I wasn't close to the guy, just friendly; and the reporters I can just ignore.

#7 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 09:52 PM:

How long do you reckon before this shows up, thinly disguised, as an episode of Law and Order? If you act fast, you could be hired as a technical consultant.

The varying approaches to the story across the different news sources is fascinating.

#8 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 11:24 PM:

I wonder who will play the hyper-intelligent next door neighbors once L&O rips it from the headlines.

#9 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 11:28 PM:


It wouldn't be the same without Lennie.

#10 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 11:29 PM:

I'm sorry your lives were touched by this mayhem. People suck sometimes.

#11 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 11:46 PM:

Stefan, you mean doink doink. I think we can use the cast's name for it, don't you?

Larry, Olivia d'Abo and Jeffrey Donovan. Unless it's CI, because then Olivia d'Abo would be Nicole Wallace, and she'd have to be the killer.

#12 ::: Calton Bolick ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 12:16 AM:

Okay, I've taken a stab at cleaning up the Wikipedia article (remember Neutral Point of View means don't call someone a jerk, just demonstrate it).

Some more general information would be welcome, such non-blog references (newspaper or magazine stories are good), bio information (such as DOB, birthplace, education, previous jobs), legal actions, career "highpoints", etc. You can add them to the article yourself, or drop me a line and I'll see what I can do with them.

#13 ::: Calton Bolick ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 12:18 AM:

Oops, wrong thread. PLEASE disregard the above (that's what you get for using multiple windows).

#14 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 02:16 AM:

That's awful. The whole incident seems unreal, not that he might have killed other people, that's too abstract to be comprehensible, but the details of the shooting.

I can't fathom it, and guns are a tool of my trade.

#15 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 02:34 AM:

Speaking of Law and Order, I noticed on a recent re-run, possibly one of CI, that the shooter shot down through the top of the head in order to cause the bullet to deform so you couldn't do ballistics on it. I don't know anything about bullets or ballistics, but I wondered, is there a reason to have shot down through the top of the head, or was the guy imitating Law and Order, or what?

#16 ::: Sugar ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 07:00 AM:

Well, if Matos was watching the television at the time, he wouldn't have been able to see whoever shot him if they did it from behind him. Though that doesn't explain why the top of the head specifically.

#17 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 07:36 AM:

Olivia d'Abo? Sure. Of course the Criminal Intent story would be a chance for them to expose the seedy world of publishing. Then... How about Harve Presnell as Tom Doherty? Any way they could fit Julian Sands in as an evil SF writer?

#18 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 08:26 AM:

Sean, Terry, for all my light tone I find it unnerving and incomprehensible. In the wake of Irving Matos' murder, the consensus of people living in the immediate area was that the murderer had to be some kind of expert. It was nothing to do with us, except insofar as we're all connected, and one's next-door neighbor is more connected than most. But Stephen Sakai is truly scary: heartless random deliberate violence.

Which you know, doesn't make a lot of sense ...

Excuse me. I need to go look up something.

#19 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 08:44 AM:

Sugar --

If the person watching tv is tipped back in their big comfy chair or a bit sprawled on the couch, top of the head may be the target that presents.

#20 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 09:23 AM:

If you shoot someone through the side of the head, the bullet comes out the other side, accompanied by a spray of bodily fluids. Shooting down through the top is guaranteed to take out essential structures, and I suspect it's both tidier, and harder to spot as murder.

#21 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 09:42 AM:

Speaking of Law and Order, I noticed on a recent re-run, possibly one of CI, that the shooter shot down through the top of the head in order to cause the bullet to deform so you couldn't do ballistics on it. I don't know anything about bullets or ballistics, but I wondered, is there a reason to have shot down through the top of the head, or was the guy imitating Law and Order, or what?

I've decide that 90% of any "technical information" you see on TV crime shows is crap. The other 10% is strictly true but irrelevant to the real world.

"CSI: Nevada" and similar shows appeal to the geek in us and to the part of us that wants to see geeks triumph over bad guys.

The one murder case that I became intimately familiar with was solved by the police beating the streets and following tips and being relentless about it.

Yes, I'm in a foul mood.
No, I haven't had my caffeine yet.

Oh, and one other thing. .22 caliber? just from a copyedit perspective, I wonder if that is accurate. I suppose it's possible, but I can't imagine a guy arming himself with a popgun, walking into an apartment with the intent to kill someone.

Oh, and one other thing I learned. Newspapers get it wrong all the time.

OK, must go find caffeine now.

#22 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 10:09 AM:

But, Greg, a mystery's plot is supposed to be better built than what Reality comes up with. And the mystery's appeal is in the puzzle-solving. I'm just saying. I've had my coffee already, but it's Folger's instant crap.

#23 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 10:47 AM:

had my Mt. Dew. Feeling much better now.

Serge, yeah, I didn't say that I don't watch CSI: Nevada. It's just that now I watch it to see Brass deliver his great one-liners and Grissom to be his socially-tone-deaf self*, and I have to work to ignore all the objections in my head that say "that isn't right" when they get all techno-mumbo-jumbo.

*And all the scantily clad women that occaisionally show up. Oh, come on, it got the ratings it got for a reason: cops, bad guys, and the sort of gratuitous sex that you can only get in Vegas. If it had been CSI:North Dakota, with all it's cold weather, and heavy clothes that brings, ratings would have been slightly lower.

#24 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 11:01 AM:

Greg... I tried watching the various incarnations of CSI, but I just couldn't get into any of them, not even the one with Gary Sinise. And I normally love Sinise. It didn't help when I read that most of their forensics is total bullcrap and not unlike Star Trek's technoblahblah.

I'm more of a Criminal Intent person, especially the Chris Noth episodes.

#25 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 11:11 AM:

Greg, allegedly (I don't actually know any professionals myself) the .22 is a common choice among assassins. Not to say *this* idiot was one, but to point out that the people who commit murder with the highest degree of premeditation apparently do choose the .22. With the advantage of surprise, and good shot placement, it's disabling and highly lethal. It's quiet and cheap, and can be made even quieter with a silencer. (For self-defense, you don't get surprise on your side, rather the reverse, and something that kills the guy within a minute gives him a minute to complete his attack on you, so the requirements are *very* different from those for assassination, hence the .22 being poorly thought of for *that*.)

Teresa, "harder to spot as murder"? I guess there'd be only one hole rather than two, but I can't imagine even the most cursory examination of the body not noticing the blood all over the top of the head.

#26 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 11:39 AM:

OK, are we talking .22 rimfire or .223 centerfire?

#27 ::: Nikkie ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 11:41 AM:

Hello All
I came across this thread when looking up info on my uncle, Irving Matos. While I am extremely relieved that his killer has been found, this just brings up all the emotions that were felt back in November.
I read the thread that was written back in November, and was very disheartened by some of the comments that were made. I know that the creator of this thread, "TNH" does not have control over the comments made by anyone. I think people should take into consideration the family. If you go back to the thread that was created in November, and named C4H12N2, you will see the effect this had on two of Irving's children, who came across the thread as I did. It might make people think twice about any negative or comical comments that are made.
Making references to Law and Order, SVU and any other shows is very insensitive. Because unlike those shows, he didn't get to wipe the blood off at the end of the scene, go to a trailer and relax. His life actually ended, and to some extent, a part of his family's life ended as well.
I don't find it funny in the least bit to try to figure out who should play what role on L&O. Some people made comments about there being sick people out there. While that is true, it seems there are some sick minded people in here too. Anyone who can find humor in any death is sick. Like I said, I don't find it funny at all. My uncle is DEAD, at the hands of a monster. While the media may try to make him out to be a monster, I knew a different man. And as we all know, the media reports first, and then get the facts later. No matter what, he did not deserve to die, his kids did not deserve to be left without a dad, and his death sure doesn't deserve to be mocked in the manner that I have seen by some of the comments on this thread.
Let's just hope that if something happens to anyone of you, or someone you love, that no one will make a mockery of it as many of you have done

#28 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 11:55 AM:

Greg London: I've decide that 90%
of any "technical information" you see on TV crime shows is crap.
The other 10% is strictly true but irrelevant to the real world.

Serge: I tried watching the various incarnations of CSI [..]
[i]t didn't help when I read that most of their forensics is total bullcrap [..]

They seem so far off on things I know anything about,
that I dismiss the rest.

One "gag" they've used on two of the CSI shows:
we have a person in a frame from video surveillance
( or tourist digital snapshot ),
but what we need to see is not in the frame.

They zoom into the eyeball of the person,
and read a license plate number
from the reflection in the eyeball.

I don't work with DNA,
but I doubt you get the results back the same afternoon;
I expect you don't get results the same week.

60 Minutes did an interview
with a lady who worked in the CSI unit of Los Angeles;
who worked as a consultant on CSI: Las Vegas.

It was an appreciative interview,
but they showed a clip from the show,
where one of the lab techs was casting a knife blade
( for tool mark analysis ) by pouring plaster into a wound.

The interviewer: "That really wouldn't work, would it?"

The consultant: "That was an argument I lost."

#29 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 12:17 PM:

Nikkie, no one is mocking your uncle's death. We're mocking CSI and L&O to some extent. We're dubious about the police's contention that the monster killed your uncle (some of us think a different kind of monster may be involved).

The discussion of who might play the "hyperintelligent neighbors" was about who would play the host and hostess of this blog, who live next door to the apartment where your uncle was killed. They are understandably quite disturbed by such an event, were on casually friendly terms with your uncle, and certainly would not mock his death or allow it to be mocked here.

All of us take this very seriously. The discussion of the police dramas has been mainly about how little they are applicable to real life. In the other recent thread about this topic, we're discussing the extreme dubiousness of the "monster's" confession; if he falsely takes the fall for your uncle's killing, that gets the police off the hook; they would no longer be looking for the man who really killed your uncle! I think we can agree that that is a disastrous outcome.

Not every post in any of these threads will be entirely without humor. Nonetheless, I say again, no one here is mocking your uncle, or his monstrous murder.

#30 ::: Nikkie ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 12:43 PM:

Thank you for your response and clarity. It just hurts like all He** to even see him being a topic for discussion. While I do know that there are some good intentions out there, you know how the saying goes. "One bad apple spoils the whole bunch".
This is a whole new level of pain for us. We have to face this all over again. Maybe, I don't fully understand the nature of this blog, but what I do understand is my pain and anger.
And it makes me angry to see the topic start out about my uncle and then turn into all of what you described in your response. Maybe I am expecting everyone to feel our pain and outrage and express it as I have done.
While I get what was said about the crime shows, I just don't think the subject should come out of the subject of my Uncle's death. Because the topic was about the "monster" that murdered my uncle. While it veered off into other realms, it was very frustrating to see it going from a discussion about my uncle and his murderer to something else.

I understand what you are saying about the intentions of people on here were not to mock my uncle or his killer. However, do understand that our family feels repulsed, insulted and disrespected by these comments.

That is what I think is important. While Speech is a Freedom, the pain that it may inflict is far from Freedom.

#31 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 12:54 PM:

Nikkie - I meant no disrespect to your uncle. Losing a relative under any circumstances is difficult, and yours are especially so. Please accept my condolences, and my apologies if anything I said was hurtful to you.

#32 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 01:00 PM:

My apologies, Nikkie.

#33 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 01:02 PM:


I'm sorry for your loss. Really.

My comments about newspaper reports and television shows weren't meant to ridicule that. All there is for information right now is what the newspapers say and some of that gets filtered through how we think things work by what we see on TV. As it happens, I was on jury duty for a murder trial some time ago, and the main reason I brought up the comments about the newspapers and TV is that being on jury duty showed me how unreliable or flat out wrong they can be.

All that doesn't change anything for you, I know that. Just know that no one here meant any harm to your or your family.

My sincerest condelences to your and yours.

#34 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 01:09 PM:

Nikkie, read any thread on here. You'll discover that they tend to drift greatly from the initial topic, break into many subthreads, contain side conversations and even fights, and eventually taper off.

That's just the nature of online discussions. They drift.

Sometimes, an online discussion can be aggressively moderated, with any "off-topic" posts immediately removed by the moderator. That requires the moderator to have a very clear idea what the topic is, and what the exact boundaries are. This isn't one of those discussions.

Many of the posts that are perfectly appropriate here would be highly inappropriate at, say, a tribute site for your uncle, like this one for my coworkers who died September 11, 2001. Any discussion of forensics at such a site would be wildly inappropriate.

If you had somehow known me and known to ask before coming to look at this thread, I'd have said "No, better not. It gets into topics and questions that you don't need or want to see or consider right now. Wait a year, and read it in archive if you're still interested. Right now it would be salt in your freshly-reopened wound."

But on this site just about anything can and will be discussed. I'm sorry for your loss, and I'm sorry you came to read this, and I'm sorry for the pain that has resulted. That doesn't mean that for us to have the discussion was wrong, however. I don't think it was. In part, we're helping our Hosts cope; and as the hyperintellectual types they (and most of us here) are, discussing details, plausible scenarios, and even possible fictional treatments are part of that process.

After I lost all those coworkers on 9/11? I considered a) getting my social security number tattooed on every part of my body; b) committing suicide (why should I live when they died?); and c) writing a time-travel novel where "I" go back and try to save "them." I didn't do any of those things (though I did cut myself a fair amount for a while there). I found the discussions here of all the details of the planes and locations and the collapse of the Twin Towers very helpful in my coping process. Which is to say, everyone copes differently; this is our way.

I'm sorry that it causes you additional pain, and I hope you find deep and lasting comfort soon.

#35 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 04:59 PM:

Greg London: .22LR is a perfectly adequate round. It doesn't have the "power" of a 9mm or a .40 S&W, but it has high velocity, low recoil, minimal noise, and narrow cross-section make it very good at piercing things.

John Hinkley used a .22LR, and he crippled James Brady and almost killed Reagan (had it been a random person, and the same thing happend, i.e., the victim was knocked down by someone as soon as the shooting started] he probably would have died, because it wasn't until they were on the way to the hospital that they checked him and found the wound. He thought he was bruised from being smashed to the ground.

Lydia Nickerson: Complete deformation will make ballistics pretty much useless, but most .22LR is going to be through a skull so quickly as to leave enough to ID (though not as well as the jury might like).

With .22 Short, Subsonic, it might be more likely, but that slow a bullet runs a greater chance of failing to do the job.

The fact of the matter is, most professionals who use .22 are mob enforcers, and they have the best defense of all; no connection to the victim. If the toss the gun after they use it, the odds of them being caught, based on crime scene evidence, are slightly greater than those my getting a World Series ring, but only just.

#36 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 05:08 PM:

I swear way back when I heard about some (local?) shooting where the guy got shot in the head 6 times with a 22 rimfire, then got up and ran away. to the hospital, of course. But he lived to finger the shooter.

I'll have to ask some old home-town buddies of mine if they remember anything about this. Maybe I imagined the whole thing.

#37 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 07:16 PM:

Greg London: The quirks of physics are such that all sorts of things can happen.

I know a helicopter pilot who was in Vietnam and had his left-seater take a 13mm round in the side of the helmet. It punched the helmet, hit him in the zygomatic arch, followed the arc of his skull (trapped by the scalp) until the other zygomatic arch got in the way, at which point it punched a hole in the other side of the helmet.

He has one hell of a scar, and an amazing story to tell.

Knowing a lot of guys who been shot at with intent, I know a few more stories of miraclulously non-fatal impacts of bullets and people.

Nikkie: I don't know what to tell you. I can say that I don't think anyone here is the sort to mock your uncle's death. In some way it affected all of us who read of it, for as John Dunne said, no man is an island, and the death of one diminishes all. That we know, even idirectly, Teresa and Patrick, who were directly affected makes it personal, in a distant way.

And many of us react to that sort of near miss with a grim humor. I know I do, and I am sorry if my reactions (which have been technical about aspects of ballistics and the like) have caused you pain, it wasn't my intent.

#38 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 08:25 PM:

Nikkie, I think you're a little close to what happened to understand how ideas mutate here. If you find places that you think ridicule your uncle, don't go back. At least not until you have more perspective. (And yes, I've been known to make jokes about my mother's death.)

#39 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 01:30 AM:

I know a helicopter pilot who was in Vietnam and had his left-seater take...

I either read that story somewhere or this guy I know who flew chinooks for two tours in Vietnam told me that story. either way, I'm having a freaky deja vu feeling right now.

#40 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 02:24 PM:

Greg: You probably read it. For all I know the guy who told me about it was personalising a step removed story.

I've read a number of accounts of similar events, from WW2 and Korea. The, relative frequency of such tales makes me belive some of them are true.

The story, as I've heard and read it was about a Huey pilot (more likely given the ways in which the cockpits are arranged).

I have, however, seen some amazig scars from things which ought to have killed people, but the details are more prosacic.

#41 ::: Tom Whitmore sees non-commercial spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 02:40 PM:

Unknown @41 -- Statements like that, until proven in a court of law, can be considered libelous. I know you're angry, but consider what you're saying.

And I don't actually expect you to be back and read this. It has the ring of something posted in far too many places.

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